Why go screen free?

Have we ever let our kids play tablets or watch tv mindlessly?  Yes.

Will we ever again?  Probably not.

What happened?

It was the first practice for my girls’ competitive cheerleading team, and my boys were looking around, bored, sticky and hot in the crowded viewing area to see if there were other kids to play with.  There were, there were almost ten other boys Caleb’s age, but they all had their necks flexed as far forward as possible, transfixed by tiny flashing screens.  There were even kids as young as Owen (who is two by the way) breathlessly holding onto their parents’ cell phones as surprise egg videos played for them.  At one point, a mom was receiving a call, when she tried to retrieve her cell phone from her toddler… you would have thought she was trying to pull out her kidney!  All the moms seemed to nod, knowingly.

Hey, I am a mom of 4, I totally get public displays of bad behaviour, but can we not see a causal link here parents?  This technology is addictive and inappropriate for this age.

The day this happened, I did still allow my kids to access screens at least most week days.  When Owen napped, the other kids could have an hour or so of tablet or tv time. Although I didn’t love it, I figured it gave me a chance to catch up on work I needed to do or have some alone time.

However, watching those small children clutching onto those screens as fiercely as a drug addict would his next hit… it flipped a switch inside of me.

It has now been a month, and I can’t see us going back to screens.  The changes that I have witnessed have been spectacular and as I have researched further into screens and their impact on young people, it has solidified my decision.

Look out for part 2 on how we have removed screens.

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Winter hike with tots

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Owen is learning how to walk in the snow covered branches, leaves and rocks.  Not an easy task for a 14 month old!  Although, soft and squishy footwear allows him to use his feet more effectively.

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Belle found a small creek, we stopped to play for about half an hour.  She poked it, threw things in it and finally dipped her boot in it.  She decided against a full soaker this time…. but she found a giant puddle down the trail, so don’t worry, she was able to get messy!

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After walking around and eating a tonne of snow, Owen fell asleep in the stroller.  This worked out great, because we didn’t have to rush home for nap time and got to play in the snowy forest even longer!

Forest kindergarten

How to start your own forest school

I have been reading everything I can get my hands on lately about forest kindergartens.

In our family, we try to get our kids outside as much as possible.  I took some outdoor education classes in University and grew up with an enviromentalist dad… so lots of hiking, provincial parks, overnight camp, enjoying nature… and of course learning about composting.

When I heard about forest kindergartens, I have been looking everywhere to see if there is an outdoor school option nearby…. there isn’t.

However, it is really great that there are so many resources available, books, videos and online.

Some of my favourite books so far are:

Richard Louv’s Last child in the woods – which discusses the real dangers of keeping your kids indoors, hint: nature deficit disorder.

Lenore Skenazy’s Free range kids, which puts danger into perspective for the worried parent.

Mike Lanza’s Playborhood, that has many fun ideas for your neighbourhood.

However, my most recent read, which sent me down my most recent rabbit hole of outdoor education and my discovery of forest kindergartens, is the book The Danish way of parenting.  This book struck me as the ideal way to raise children.  Filled with play, a mellow approach, closeness.  This is probably one of my favourite all time parenting reads, along with free range kids, which was really hard to top.

Today, it was beautiful here, so I took the oldest out of school and we had our own forest kindergarten.

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How to start homeschooling

 

 

We spent just over 4 hours in the forest.  We learned about how trees grow, saw ladybugs, and investigated moss.  We climbed many logs, and jumped in lots of puddles.  The kids sang and worked together to build shelters.  We brought along lunch and took our time playing in a few great spots.  When it was time to move on, I warned them early, then clapped my hands twice, they responded with 2 claps. I then moved along and they followed along behind me, ahead of me, and sometimes stopping to check out the forest near me.